Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Our only joy in view of the world to come

Truly, O worldlings! I pity you. Now you seem to be great and full of fun. But, though you shine on the outside, there is an awful blank within. If in this life only I have hope, I would of all men be most miserable; for the greatest thing I could either hope for, or desire below, are trifling in comparison of the great and glorious things of eternity that I aspire after. What good would my life do me, did I not live to die, that I may live forever? What would my time be—but a rotation of toils and troubles, did it not afford me an opportunity to prepare and improve for eternity? How would every forethought about this present life trouble me, did not the solid hope of a future world sustain me?

As for my part, I would not wish a worse hell, than that my eternal habitation were among the wicked in Mesech—where my unsubdued corruptions and carnal affections were perpetuated. But I know in whom I have believed, and that he will not delay to gather his scattered sheep together, that there may be one Shepherd, and one flock, in the fields above. Eternity is already begun in my soul, and my inward part is refreshed with foretastes of fruition and glory. Hence my thoughts take wing beyond the bounds of time, and dwell, (though, alas! too short,) amidst the glories of the better world. Hence I am contented with my present state, and would not exchange my condition with kings. Hence the early beamings of that blessed day, when my Beloved and I shall meet, to part no more—refresh and ravish all my soul. Hence I triumph amidst all the transitory scenes of sorrow which I labor under; and am not moved, either by unjust reproach, or vain applause.

O the emptiness of this present world! but O the excellences of the world to come! Faith and hope—fetch me some of the first-ripe fruits, some of the grapes of Eshcol. Surely, this world would be a wilderness to me, did I not look on myself only as a traveler through it—as a way-faring man that shall tarry therein but for a few nights.

There is a restlessness in my bosom that shall never be removed until I rest in God. Yes, even now, God is the resting-place of my soul, otherwise I would be tormented with strong pain, and torn with agonies of mind. Yet the most pleasant calm and tranquility I enjoy here, through the imperfections of this state, and remaining corruption—is far from being complete at best, and oftentimes is interrupted. But the rest I wait for, is refreshing, perfect, and eternal.

Hasten, then, the day when you shall descend to mount your glorious throne, and appear the second time without sin unto salvation; when you shall accomplish all my desires, fill my longing soul, admit me to the nearest communion, and satisfy me with the sublimest bliss. For this I patiently wait. In the mean time, I lay up my treasures in heaven, where I dwell by hope, and have taken up my mansion by faith in the promise, until the day of my solemn removal come, when by the divine command, I shall be carried over to the land of rest.

Miserable are those who have no joy in the prospect of a world to come—without which I would be swallowed up in sorrow. Miserable are those who find their pleasure, and place their happiness—in the painted trifles of a momentary life—but are tortured with the thoughts of eternity, and put on the rack if they glance beyond the grave!